Hanoverian Artillery Train

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Description

Artillery Train

The Hanoverian artillery required an important artillery train. For example, on May 19 1758, it required the following establishment (number in parenthesis indicate effective strength at that time):

  • 28 (15) Unterstallmeister (deputy stable managers)
  • 115 (83) conductors
  • 1,293 (817) drivers
  • 3,360 (2,656) horses
  • 93 (74) covered wagons

As of July 31 1758 the artillery train included the following vehicles:

  • 24 platform carriages
  • 6 wagons for spare parts
  • 2 spares limbers
  • 134 equipment wagons
  • 185 equipment carts (most with 3-horse teams)
  • 250 open wagons
  • 8 wagons with infantry bridging material
  • 31 pontoons with carts
  • 2 equipment carts
  • 2 pontoon wagons
  • 7 field smithies
  • 9 wagons of iron
  • 13 wheelwright's wagons
  • 8 saddler's wagons
  • 2 armourer's wagons
  • 1 ropemaker's wagon
  • 8 wagons for the Proviantverwalter (rations commissary)
  • 9 open forage wagons
  • 5 lubricant carts

...and the following personnel:

  • 4 officers
  • 1 ration commissary
  • 3 clerks
  • 1 Wagenmeister
  • 2 Geschirrmeister (harness makers)
  • 1 veterinary surgeon
  • 36 deputy stable managers
  • 146 Conductors
  • 1,499 drivers with 3,890 horses

The fact that there was only one veterinary surgeon for 4,000 horses is amazing, four would have been insufficient.

The Rosspartie (artillery train) of the Hanoverian artillery was of a rather poor quality. It had no permanent organization in peacetime. Therefore, at the beginning of the Seven Years War, there was a complete lack of suitably qualified officers, soldiers and drivers. Only few vehicles were maintained in the arsenals, so vehicles and teams had to be requisitioned from the peasants. This resulted in a plague of rickety vehicles, unfit horses and unreliable drivers being pressed into service both at home and in hostile states. These drivers were often undisciplined and had no knowledge of vehicles or horses.

The attrition rate of the horses was another factor. In 1758, during the Allied winter offensive in West Germany, the Hanoverian artillery lost 335 train horses (approx. 10% of the total) from the long marches, lack of forage and lack of stabling.

By 1762, the artillery train had grown to:

  • 4 officers
  • 1 inspector
  • 2 two secretaries
  • 1 ration commissary
  • 9 clerks
  • 44 stable managers
  • 9 veterinary surgeons
  • 2 Wagenmeister
  • 9 Geschirrmeister (harness makers)
  • 2,400 drivers with 6,731 horses
  • 6 three-horse carts
  • 256 six-horse equipment vehicles
  • 18 four-horse equipment wagons
  • 93 six-horse open wagons
  • 6 field smithies
  • pontoon vehicles

Arsenals

No information available yet

References

Pengel & Hurt, German States in the Seven Years War 1740 to 1762, Imperial Press

Rogge, Christian, The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Schirmer, Friedrich: Nec Aspera Terrent: Eine Heereskunde der hannoverschen Armee von 1631 bis 1803, Niedersächische Hausbücherei, Hannover 1929

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article